A Chicago-area priest was among the injured after a plane crash in Mexico Tuesday, officials said. Others from Chicago were also aboard the plane, but no deaths were reported.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Des Plaines confirmed to NBC 5 that the Rev. Esequiel Sanchez was on the Aeromexico plane that crashed in the northern Mexican state of Durango while en route to Mexico City. Officials say 85 people were injured on that plane.
Sanchez is among those taken to the hospital where his condition has stabilized.
“He sustained some injuries but we are grateful to learn he is alert and resting,” the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement. “We pray for Fr. Sanchez and everyone affected by this plane crash.”
The civil defense office of Durango state said the plane landed in a field near the airport for the state capital, also named Durango. The agency published photos of a smoking but seemingly relatively intact plane lying on its belly in a field. Lines of ambulances were waiting at the accident site.
“We took off—it was pouring rain—honestly I thought ‘why in the world are we even taking off,’” Dorelia Rivera of Elmwood Park said.
Rivera was on the plane with nine others from Chicago, she said. She talked to NBC 5 from the hospital in Durango, Mexico.
“Within a couple minutes the plane just started shaking,” she said. “We heard a loud noise behind us—and the next thing we knew it was starting to smoke and fire.”
She said people were clamouring to get off the plane. She grabbed the only two things she could: her daughter’s hand and the medicine the child needs to stay alive, she said.
“Somebody literally pushed her back so they could get through,” Rivera said.
But she doesn’t blame the person, she added.
Other members of her group suffered burns and broken bones, she said.
Gerardo Ruiz Eparza, head of Mexico’s Transport Department, said that “the plane fell upon takeoff.” He said there were 97 passengers and four crew members aboard.
Alberto Herrera, who was also on the plane, said he was with Sanchez after the crash.
“We said a prayer for everybody on board. There was like 20 of us, we didn’t know if everybody got out we were just hoping for the best that everybody got out,” he told NBC 5 Wednesday morning.
Herrera said he could feel “insane” winds as the plane took off. But all he could do was “hope for the best” as it came back to the ground.
“You say a little prayer and you hope for the best and you hope you said ‘I love you’ to the loved ones you left behind here in Mexico and in Chicago,” he said.